The global pandemic has been hard on everyone.
It can be especially challenging as a parent as you are worrying for your children while also experiencing the challenges of the pandemic yourself. It can also feel hard to care for your children when you feel little is in your control. With all the changes and uncertainty of the world right now, it is natural to be feeling stress, anxiety, fear, and many other emotions. You are not alone in this and many parents are feeling this pressure.
Here are tips on how to support your children in a pandemic.
- Take care of yourself. This is important but often ignored! You are important. Do that thing that makes you happy and feel refreshed. When you have given yourself some compassion and love, you have more energy to give compassion and love to your children. Presence with your children starts with attending to yourself.
- Know the facts. Find information about COVID-19 from reliable sources such as the government of Canada Website. Make some time to teach your children about media literacy and how some articles may not share full truths.
- Unplug. Know when you should stop listening to the news as too much can feel draining. Teach your children the importance of knowing when to unplug from the news as well.
- Be transparent. Communicate with your children and be honest about what is going on. Tailor these conversations to the developmental age of your child. This can provide them with reassurance when everything feels very overwhelming. Let them know you are always there to talk.
- Focus on what you can control. Human beings love to be in control and when there is a feeling of loss of control, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. Remind your children of what is in their control (wearing a mask, washing their hands, staying 6 feet apart, staying home, not touching their face when leaving the house).
- Listen. We all need to vent sometimes. Listening without necessarily providing answers or solutions may be all your child needs.
- Empathy. Remind your children that it is normal to feel whatever emotion they are experiencing because these are very uncertain circumstances. Let them know they are not alone in feeling like this.
- Check in often. Be sure to frequently ask your child how they are feeling. This opens the door more frequently for them to express themselves and lets them know that it is okay not to be okay and to share their feelings with others.
- Make time for family time and play. Human beings are biologically programmed to need connection, and creativity helps us make meaning of things. Connection, art, and creativity fuels the soul!
- Reach out. At Shift, we have some wonderful therapists that specialize in counselling with children and teens. The Kids Help Phone is also a great resource: 1-800-668-6868